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Thread: The Vatican Vassals: The Story of House di Ruggiero

  1. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by Rabid View Post
    With a king title under the family's belt I have a feeling that a more ambitious or less pious ruler is going to chafe under papal overlordship...
    I'm going to see how that one works out -- the men of the di Ruggiero family have almost all had the Zealous trait and generally been faithful Catholics who would rather use their Kingly power to prop up the Pope rather than tear him down.. Maybe a particularly jerkwad character will come along later, but for now, the King of Naples is content to be a Papal vassal.
    My AARs:

    Darkest Hour Full 1.03: Deus, Patria e Familia: Restoring the Ultramar - A Fascist Portugal AAR (Finished)

    Crusader Kings II / CK2+: The Vatican Vassals: The Story of House di Ruggiero (Dead)

    Darkest Hour / Kaiserreich: Crisis in the Danube: An Austro-Hungarian Civil War AAR (Died from real life insanity)

    HoI2: France Must Stand Alone: A Fascist France AAR (Finished || Weekly AAR Showcase: (2/27/11)

    EU3: Savoy Vey! A Quaint Little Savoy AAR (Retired due to bugs/crashes)

  2. #42
    December 1163 - February 1198
    Carlo I's Schemes

    Castore I, though his life and reign were both short, made perhaps the greatest impact on his lands within that short life. Spending extravagant amounts of gold, he improved, upgraded, and reinforced Orvieto, the central capitol of his family, far beyond what his predecessors had ever attempted. And at the end of his life, just a year before he was slain by a bout of pneumonia, he proclaimed himself a King -- the King of Naples, a title that would be passed on to his son, Carlo.



    The line of succession, not unlike in Castore's ascension to the throne, was a muddied affair thanks to the late King's two marriages. Castore initially had four children by his first wife, a lowborn woman named Kyra. Of those four children, the first two were sons -- but the eldest, Comita, died at the age of 17 after being maimed in an accident. As his other siblings were female, this had left Carlo as the sole legitimate heir to his father's power. However, Kyra later appeared to become possessed by evil spirits -- as was evidenced when she nearly killed one of the young children at court with her bare hands and teeth. Horrified, Castore received Papal permission to divorce his wife, and went on to marry the younger, more attractive, and decidedly less possessed Princess Alfridh of Sweden, who bore him another five children, including three sons. Although the eldest by that wife, Giorgio, died from pneumonia at age 4, his younger brother, Benedetto, held a claim to the throne as the eldest son of his father's second wife and, more notably, of a noble wife as opposed to a lowborn one.



    Hoping that Benedetto could be kept safely out of the way, King Carlo sent him to the island County of Cagliari, promising the future conquest of Sardinia to appease his half-brother's ambition. This proved ineffective, however, as Benedetto rose up against Carlo in April of 1773, landing an army of some 800 troops on the shores of Italy to attack his half-brother King. Next to the combined mustered forces of Naples, however, his rebellion was short-lived, and Benedetto lived out the remainder of his days in Orvieto's castle dungeon.

    Claims Gained and Lost

    King Carlo proved adept at maneuvering marriages and forging documents, using a series of claims to leverage wars against his Italian neighbors. Some of them proved more successful than others -- notably, he twice opposed the Duchy of Tuscany, eventually usurping the title for himself after conquering Lucca and Siena, seizing land from Ascanio the Bold until all that remained under his control was the Duchy of Modena. He also capitalized on Genoa's invasion of Muslim Iberia to attack the unguarded Republic from behind, seizing the island County of Arborea to add to his holdings in Sardinia. Thanks to Carlo's aggressive efforts, Naples gradually became the single dominant power in north-central Italy, expanding to a size that meant few powers could reasonably contest the dominance of the di Ruggiero family in Italy.

    One power that could rival that of Naples, however, was the Kingdom of Sicily to the south, which controlled its namesake island and most of the southern peninsula. In an attempt to break up the power of Sicily, Carlo followed a proven method of destabilizing enemies -- using his leverage as a favored Papal vassal to have King Aubrey III excommunicated, sowing dissent in the country. Sure enough, the pius Holy Roman Emperor quickly declared an Excommunication War on Sicily, allowing Carlo to make his move by pressing the claims of Prince Torf d'Hauteville, married matrilineally to his half-sister, Bianca. With the Holy Roman Empire doing most of the heavy lifting, crushing Sicily's army with a force of over 10,000 soldiers from the Empire, Carlo was easily able to capture enough land to force the King's hand into submission, resulting in an independent Duchy of Salerno which, thanks to the matrilineal marriage between Prince Torf and Princess Bianca, would be ruled by a di Ruggiero in only one generation. However, once the Excommunication War settled with a victory for the Holy Roman Empire, Prince Torf proceeded to swear his fealty to the Kingdom of Sicily, restoring Salerno to the kingdom and undoing Carlo's diligent efforts to destabilize the kingdom.

    A Second Family Member Rebels

    Benedetto's rebellion in Cagliari had proven a nuisance, at best, and a disappointing show of disloyalty from a family member. Later in Carlo I's reign, however, a greater threat appeared when Duke Berto II of Ancona, the grandson of Count Comita of Urbino who had rebelled against Castore at the time of his succession, rose up with a sizable force of nearly 2,000 loyal soldiers and mercenaries that required a substantial investment from Carlo to subue. The war took nearly three years as the two battled it out, but as with Benedetto, Berto was ultimately defeated in a few decisive field battles, leaving his land open for easy sieging and forcing him to surrender and be imprisoned for his treasonous crimes.

    As the life and reign of Carlo I came to its close, a quick look at the map of Italy made it clear that the Holy Father's pet King was a force to be reckoned with; and future Kings of Naples might just be the ones to unify the Italian peninsula.



    =-=-=-=

    A note: Sorry that this entry is so text heavy and short and crappyish... Cleaning out old screenshots, I accidentally deleted most of my new ones as well, and didn't feel like replaying the time periods of all the pictures I missed. So I summarized Carlo I as best I could, and I can pick up fresh with his successor.

    But things are coming along well -- carefully picking where I fabricate my claims has opened up a few de jure claims on other ducal territories, which is helping me keep the expansion going strong. But my plan in Sicily... That was a fail
    My AARs:

    Darkest Hour Full 1.03: Deus, Patria e Familia: Restoring the Ultramar - A Fascist Portugal AAR (Finished)

    Crusader Kings II / CK2+: The Vatican Vassals: The Story of House di Ruggiero (Dead)

    Darkest Hour / Kaiserreich: Crisis in the Danube: An Austro-Hungarian Civil War AAR (Died from real life insanity)

    HoI2: France Must Stand Alone: A Fascist France AAR (Finished || Weekly AAR Showcase: (2/27/11)

    EU3: Savoy Vey! A Quaint Little Savoy AAR (Retired due to bugs/crashes)

  3. #43
    Crying Dutchman TheFreez's Avatar
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    Well, at least you'll have a family member in Sicily sooner or later, maybe he could be useful in taking down that kingdom.
    Everyone is better than someone who thinks he's better than everyone.

  4. #44
    Yeah his son will be a di Ruggiero because of the matrilineal marriage, but will being of the same dynasty give him any inclination to help me rather than Sicily? I'm not really sure how the game / CK2+ handles that.
    My AARs:

    Darkest Hour Full 1.03: Deus, Patria e Familia: Restoring the Ultramar - A Fascist Portugal AAR (Finished)

    Crusader Kings II / CK2+: The Vatican Vassals: The Story of House di Ruggiero (Dead)

    Darkest Hour / Kaiserreich: Crisis in the Danube: An Austro-Hungarian Civil War AAR (Died from real life insanity)

    HoI2: France Must Stand Alone: A Fascist France AAR (Finished || Weekly AAR Showcase: (2/27/11)

    EU3: Savoy Vey! A Quaint Little Savoy AAR (Retired due to bugs/crashes)

  5. #45
    Crying Dutchman TheFreez's Avatar
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    Things could indeed get nasty if he inherits some claims, but eventually those will disappear and then the Same Dynasty bonus could come in handy.
    Everyone is better than someone who thinks he's better than everyone.

  6. #46
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    Very interesting .

  7. #47
    April 1200 - September 1201
    Italy Split in Three

    The Arrival: April 4, 1200

    King Carlo II sat upright at his table, reviewing a letter from his brother Benito across the sea on the island of Sardinia. In it, Benito expressed his thanks for Carlo's assistance in capturing Corsica, completing the Duchy of Sardinia which was given in its fullness to Prince Benito. It had been an easy campaign, and Carlo wanted to be sure that Benito, his only full-blooded brother, had a strong enough power base to support him in wayward claimants decided to challenge the throne. Carlo I had been a busy man, fathering a total of twelve children with three wives -- his first died in a suspicious accident which was never proven of any wrongdoing, and his second died a natural death, and with his third wife he continued to sire children even into his 50's. There were no shortage of blood relations to the late King, and Carlo was cautious of them.



    As he read, the loud and repeated tolling of the church bells atop the cathedral in Narni caught Carlo's attention, and jarred it away from the letter and the thoughts of his brother. Rising quickly from his table, Carlo threw his cloak across his shoulders and beckoned with a sharp wave of his hand to his uncle and Marshal, Prince Vittorio.

    “Come, Vittorio. They have arrived.” he spoke simply, with grim determination.

    Leaving the castle and riding as fast as his choice horses would carry, Carlo galloped into the City of Narni, the streets clearing to either side as the peasants scattered to allow their king passage. As the horses charged through the city, the other smaller churches of the city chimed in, a chorus of bells, each on slightly different pitches, ringing out at once. Carlo looked out toward the city harbor, and saw the large ship crashing throgh the waves of the Tyrrhenian Sea and approaching the nearest dock. The large, white sail atop the vessel was marked with a red Cross of Saint James, signalling its allegience: the Knights of Santiago had arrived.

    As the ship docked and its passengers began to disembark, he saw the figure of the Order’s Grandmaster, Benito de Alagon, escorted by his retainer knights on either side. Benito’s figure was aged -- the man was 59 years old, and he was somewhat slow to walk as he approached with his entourage, and King Carlo stepped forward from his own bodyguards to greet him. Aged or not, the man was the Grandmaster of the Order of Santiago, and with a sharp military mind, was every bit as deadly as a man half his age commanding the same troops.



    “Lord keep you, Your Highness,” the Grandmaster greeted Carlo. His words were formal and held a tone of respect, but his body language, offering nothing more than a stiff, curt nod, clearly communicated that Benito’s loyalty was to God and to the Holy War, not to any earthly king, no matter how pious. The defiant stint would have drawn Carlo’s anger from an ordinary man -- but the leader of an order of holy knights held an altogether different air of authority.

    “I trust your journey here was safe,” Carlo responded, looking up to the other ships gradually making their way into the dock, “You have my gratitude, as well as the thanks of all the God-fearing people of Naples for answering our call.”

    “You were wise to call upon us,” said Benito with another stiff nod, “We exist not only to fight the Mohammedan scourge... But our blades are divinely ordained to cut down any who violate the true faith... As it seems the despicable heretics in Pisa have done.”

    “A most foul heresy, indeed,” spoke the 60 year-old Court Chaplain of Naples, Bishop Basso of Aquino, stepping just behind his liege, “The Fraticelli movement has surfaced here and there in Italy before, but now the shameful Doge Bartolomeo has embraced the heresy as his own! They would deny the Church the wealth and glory due to her, and see her whore away her majesty to feed the poor. Such a misguided notion of charity would surely destroy Holy Mother Church, if left unchecked.”

    A pair of senior knights approached the group, speaking a few hushed words to Grandmaster Benito, before receiving their instructions and directing the unloading of the rest of the knights and their supplies.

    “What can you tell us about our opponents, my King?” the Grandmaster asked.

    “Allow me, Highness,” interjected Marshal Vittorio, “The Republic of Pisa is small, consiting of only two Counties. But they command an impressive amount of wealth, and will be able to field an army of substantial size. We have already issued the call to arms for our own soldiers -- within two weeks, we should have the majority of our forces mustered here and ready to go to battle. If we can outmaneuver and defeat them in the field, laying siege to their lands will not be difficult.”

    “Very well,” Benito answered, changing his tone as he began to issue commands, “My Knights will form the center flank of the army. Marshal, I will charge you and whoever you deem most capable with supporting the flanks. May God guide our blades, and may we water the Church in Pisa with the blood of her heretic foes.”

    The Assault: June 3, 1200

    The scent of incense hung heavily in the air as the priests who had accompanied the armies of Naples on their journey walked along the battle lines to offer their blessings. At the front of the formation, Bishop Bertoldo di Ruggiero, the leader of the churches in Siena, delivered his pre-battle blessing, praying aloud in a shout as he read from the hundred and forty-third Psalm.

    “Blessed by the Lord my God, who teacheth my hands to fight, and my fingers to war!” he called out, his voice booming through the formation of men, “My mercy, and my refuge, my support, and my deliverer, My protector!! And I have hoped in Him who subdueth my people under me! Lord, bow down thy heavens and descend! Touch the mountains and they shall smoke! Send forth lightning, and thou shalt scatter them! Shoot out thy arrows, and thou shalt trouble them!”

    Closing the large, heavily-bound Bible in his hands, he raised his free hand up in the air as he continued to speak in a loud voice.

    “My brothers of the true faith!! We have come to this battlefield today, not to fight for our own glory, or wealth, or power! We have marched here to defend the very honor of God Himself, and to safeguard the purity of Holy Mother Church! These foul, bedamned heretics have dared to defile the purity and the glory of the Bride of Christ, our Mother Church, by stripping her of all that Christ Her Bridegroom has given her! Her earthly splendor they seek to destroy, and leave her naked before the world!!

    So righteous is our cause that our brothers, the holy knights of the Order of Santiago, have come here by the grace and provision of God to fight at our side! Make no mistake, my brothers -- each and every man you will face on the battlefield today is a heretic, despicable in the eyes of God, and deserving of His wrath! Show no mercy, men of Naples, and together with our holy and venerable brethren, thrust the burning blade of righteousness into the blackened hearts of the heretic, to the glory of God!!”

    A deafening roar erupted from the battle lines as the nearly five thousand soldiers assembled near the castle at Pienza cheered their approval and gave voice to their zeal. The armies of Pisa, numbering just over four thousand including hired mercenaries, had laid siege to the County of Siena in the beginning of May. Now, at the onset of June, the armies of Grandmaster Benito and Marshal Vittorio had come to drive the invading armies back out.

    At the Grandmaster’s call, the army marched. Lances pointed, blades at the ready, the Knights of Santiago advanced in their gleaming platemail and pristine cloaks bearing the cross that was the mark of their order, charging into the fray with holy zeal. While the armies of Naples to either flank engaged the enemy on even terms, the heavily-armored soldiers of the Order of Santiago crashed against the central army of Pisa like a mail-clad hammer, crushing the soldiers of the heretic Doge with each pass. The Knights suffered only a minimal number of casualties, while a storm of swords and maces struck down the Pisan troops by the score.



    The engagement at Pienza lasted well over a week, and each day the men of Naples drew closer to victory, thanks in no small part to the dramatic and decisive victories of their zealous brethren. Grandmaster Benito’s men shattered any unit that dared challenge them in battle, and the Knights were the single most critical resource in the Neopolitan victory. By the engagement’s end, the army of Pisa had been cut to a fraction of its former size, and after a few short weeks of vicious pursuit by the Order, the last of the men were routed, paving the way for the heretic’s surrender in short order.

    The Aftermath: September 23, 1200

    The reclamation of Pisa for the Holy Church had been decided by the outcome of a single battle. In one decisive move, the Knights of Santiago had crushed the defenders of the heretic republic, and the remainder of the summer of 1200 had been spent chasing the remnants of the army across the countryside until the whole of Pisa was at the mercy of Grandmaster Benito and King Carlo's men. With no further options, the Doge of Pisa surrendered himself to Carlo, making the whole republic -- which consisted of the Counties of Pisa and Piombino -- part of the Kingdom of Naples.

    The military victory was the important first step, but it was still necessary to secure a spiritual victory by driving out the Fraticelli heresy from the region. To that end, Carlo sent his personal Court Chaplain, Bishop Basso of Aquino, to begin an aggressive mission to Pisa to bring the people there back into the fold of the true Church. It would be a long journey to redemption, but well worth the investment for the salvation of souls.

    The Situation Ahead

    The religious conquest of Pisa began a major turning point in the political climate of Italy. The peninsula had, for quite some time, been a mix of small independent Counties and Duchies, with influence generally divided among small local-regional powers. But with the fall of Pisa to Naples and the conquest of what remained of the Duchy of Modena by the Holy Roman Empire and Kingdom of Sicily, the Italian peninsula was essentially divided into three important regions.



    Southern Italy was firmly in the hands of King Godfrey I d'Hauteville, King of Sicily. Central Italy was the uncontested realm of King Carlo of Naples, the vassal of His Holiness Pope Agapetus III. The northern end of the Italian region was largely controlled by the Holy Roman Empire. Facing off against Kaiser Lutbert I von Metz was not an option, as the massive Empire controlled an overwhelming amount of land, wealth, and manpower -- as a result, the only viable option to expand the realm of the Pope and of Naples was to turn southward and finally tackle the Kingdom of Sicily.


    =-=-=-=-=

    So it's pretty much that time... Rolling over the various small duchies has generally been pretty simple... But trying to take the fight to Sicilyw ill be my first real test of this game, facing off against a big opponent with equal or greater resources than my own.

    This should be a fun challenge
    Last edited by RedTemplar; 08-08-2012 at 02:06.
    My AARs:

    Darkest Hour Full 1.03: Deus, Patria e Familia: Restoring the Ultramar - A Fascist Portugal AAR (Finished)

    Crusader Kings II / CK2+: The Vatican Vassals: The Story of House di Ruggiero (Dead)

    Darkest Hour / Kaiserreich: Crisis in the Danube: An Austro-Hungarian Civil War AAR (Died from real life insanity)

    HoI2: France Must Stand Alone: A Fascist France AAR (Finished || Weekly AAR Showcase: (2/27/11)

    EU3: Savoy Vey! A Quaint Little Savoy AAR (Retired due to bugs/crashes)

  8. #48
    Crying Dutchman TheFreez's Avatar
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    Looking forward to war (wars?) with Sicily. And I couldn't help to notice that with some luck, Genoa could become an Italian player as well, considering their holdings in Aragon and North Africa.
    Everyone is better than someone who thinks he's better than everyone.

  9. #49
    It would have to be several wars -- I can't imagine somehow fabricating a full claim on the Kingdom of Sicily... It's going to have to be manufacturing claims one at a time, and then working the de jure ducal claims. Probably going to be a long and arduous task -- better make sure I've got lots of coin saved for mercenaries!
    My AARs:

    Darkest Hour Full 1.03: Deus, Patria e Familia: Restoring the Ultramar - A Fascist Portugal AAR (Finished)

    Crusader Kings II / CK2+: The Vatican Vassals: The Story of House di Ruggiero (Dead)

    Darkest Hour / Kaiserreich: Crisis in the Danube: An Austro-Hungarian Civil War AAR (Died from real life insanity)

    HoI2: France Must Stand Alone: A Fascist France AAR (Finished || Weekly AAR Showcase: (2/27/11)

    EU3: Savoy Vey! A Quaint Little Savoy AAR (Retired due to bugs/crashes)

  10. #50
    You can get claims on entire duchies too through fabrications.
    Winner of the WritAAR of the Week for 2/16/14 & Winner of the Video AAR of the Month for May 2014.

    CK2 Tutorial

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    Enemies all Around! (CK2 Jewish Khazars), Rise Italy! (Vic2 Two Sicilies LP), Everyone Gets a Pyramid(CK2 Tulunid - Ended), Time to Sail!(EU4 Portugal - Complete], All Glories to the Tsar!(Victoria 2 - Complete), Hunting Tigers on Elephants(CK2 Pratihara India - Complete)

    My AARs:

    Rome Wasn't Built in an AAR, eer, Day - Part 2(EU4 Megacampaign), Rome Wasn't Built in an AAR, eer, Day(CK2 Megacampaign Complete), Mars and Venus, An Austria AAR(EU4 Complete), Mamluk? More like AARluk or something(EU4 In Progress), To Swede or Not to Swede(Complete EU4), Baltic or Bust(Prussia Romuva CK2 Complete), Once I was the King of Spain(Complete EU4), We have the Best Yurts(Complete Cuman CK2), Viking Russia for the All Father(Complete CK2)

  11. #51
    True -- my current Chancellor has a skill of 18, so it's possible.
    My AARs:

    Darkest Hour Full 1.03: Deus, Patria e Familia: Restoring the Ultramar - A Fascist Portugal AAR (Finished)

    Crusader Kings II / CK2+: The Vatican Vassals: The Story of House di Ruggiero (Dead)

    Darkest Hour / Kaiserreich: Crisis in the Danube: An Austro-Hungarian Civil War AAR (Died from real life insanity)

    HoI2: France Must Stand Alone: A Fascist France AAR (Finished || Weekly AAR Showcase: (2/27/11)

    EU3: Savoy Vey! A Quaint Little Savoy AAR (Retired due to bugs/crashes)

  12. #52
    I'd definitely focus on the island first, just due to the size of that duchy. A lucky clain on the entire duchy is a big deal! (6 provinces in CK2+, with better tech than the rest of the Catholic world)

  13. #53
    June 1207 - October 1218
    A Decade of War

    Grasping for the Holy Land

    The capture of Pisa had left Italy split roughly into three main areas of influence, with the Pope and his King of Naples occupying the central peninsula in a position of strength. It had been King Carlo's attention to immediately turn his aggression toward Sicily to begin dismantling his powerful neighbor to the south, but the Holy Father's call to arms disrupted the King's attempts to press a claim on the County of Teate on the northern edges of the Sicillian Kingdom.

    Agapetus III called, in June of 1207, for Christian leaders to unite to join the Fourth Crusade for Jerusalem. Since the previous forays into the Middle East by the armies of Christendom, the balance of power had shifted near Jerusalem, with the powerful Fatimid Sultanate now sharing its power with several other local regional Muslim powers.



    The Crusade came at a very inopportune time for King Carlo but, as the Pope's loyal vassal, he was not about to hold back on his support for the Crusade in order to pursue his own territorial interests. Calling on all of his vassals, Carlo raised an army of around 4,500 men to compliment the forces of his liege, who had enlisted the aid of every major religious knightly order available to him in order to send a massive force across the seas to jerusalem.



    As was the case in the previous Crusades, the Christians brought a strong military presence, quickly seizing the Holy Land's shores with a massive fleet and an aggressive army. With the Holy Father leading the combined armies of the Orders, the Muslim defenders were beaten back quickly and crushed in a series of short sieges punctuated by overwhelming castle raids, as stronghold after stronghold collapsed in the face of Christian aggression. That momentum, however, was not long-lived.



    The Muslims, after several Crusades, had grown resolved in their defense against the Christian reclaimers, and fielded great numbers of highly zealous troops to repel the Pope's attempts to reclaim Jerusalem. While the momentum of the Crusade had initially sided with the Crusaders, the resurgence of Muslim opposition quickly turned the war against them. By the end of 1208, the Neapoloitan armies in the Holy Land had been entirely wiped out, and the Pope was left struggling to coordinate the remains of the Christian armies. Although the war would not end for almost three more years, the fate of the Crusade was decided in those crucial defeats.

    War Exhaustion

    When the Crusades turned south, Carlo focused once again on his rival to the south, King Godfrey I of Sicily, who was stretched perilously thin between two wars. Overseas, Sicily had contributed some of its troops to the Crusade, while simultaneously attempting to wage a second war at the north of the Italian peninsula, pressing the King's claim on the Republic of Genoa -- a war he was dramatically losing, with all of his northern Italian holdings besieged by Genoese troops.



    Although the armies of Naples had had little time to recover from the failed Crusade, Carlo wagered that Sicily, facing similarly dire circumstances, would be unable to adequately defend against a third opponent. In November of 1209, one year after Naples' withdrawal from the Crusade, Carlo declared his intent to claim Teate by means of war.

    The war for Teate was an interesting one, as it was decided almost entirely by field battles. As each Kingdom continually raised more scraps of levies and hired small bands of mercenaries in an attempt to field sizable armies, most of the conflict was decided by the clashes between these forces -- whichever side could eliminate the other's troop strength would be free to lock down the war and finish their opponent off. To that end, the war largely boiled down to its two largest battles, at Firenze and Pistoia -- neither of which ever involved armies of more than 2,000 men.



    The opposing armies dedicated much of their time to maneuvering around each other, but when they finally came to blows, the men of Naples came out ahead in all but one engagement, thanks to the reinforcements of Breton and German mercenaries hired by Carlo's wealth. The series of victories destroyed Sicily's strongest concentration of troops, leaving the Sicilians with only small and ineffectual forces to attempt to defend their lands. After a grueling, five-year-long war, King Godfrey finally surrendered Teate in December of 1214.

    A Fleeting Victory

    The victory marked the first in what Carlo prayed would be a series of triumphs over Sicily, but his glory was not to be long enjoyed. Just four years after his conquest of Teate, Carlo II passed on to the Lord, leaving a very challenging succession crisis behind him.
    My AARs:

    Darkest Hour Full 1.03: Deus, Patria e Familia: Restoring the Ultramar - A Fascist Portugal AAR (Finished)

    Crusader Kings II / CK2+: The Vatican Vassals: The Story of House di Ruggiero (Dead)

    Darkest Hour / Kaiserreich: Crisis in the Danube: An Austro-Hungarian Civil War AAR (Died from real life insanity)

    HoI2: France Must Stand Alone: A Fascist France AAR (Finished || Weekly AAR Showcase: (2/27/11)

    EU3: Savoy Vey! A Quaint Little Savoy AAR (Retired due to bugs/crashes)

  14. #54
    October 1218 - June 1231
    Orvieto's Queen

    January 8, 1219 - Barony of Sorrento

    Armando di Parma was a fortunate man. He had been skeptical, being sent away from his home to marry the daughter of King Carlo II, but clearly the Lord had a greater plan in store for him. Carlo II, for all of his achievements throughout his life, had never managed to give birth to a son -- and so, when he died at the age of 57, the rule of the Kingdom of Naples passed, for the first time since its founding, into the hands of a woman; namely, Armando's wife, Queen Elisa I di Ruggiero.




    Since Carlo's death in October of the previous year, Armando had grown accustomed to the life of a monarch. Even though he was not Naples' principal ruler, he still enjoyed the authority, the respect and, perhaps, most importantly, the wealth that came from his position. For a man as greedy as Armando, sitting at the top of the feudal food chain in Naples gave him ample opportunity to sate his desires with anything gold could purchase. His wife was far too concerned with her ambitions of expanding the kingdom and consolidating power around her and her daughters, and so she paid little mind to what her husband did, so long as he didn't splurge away too much of the family wealth.

    There were many luxuries that filled Armando's dwelling in Sorrento, where he had served as Baron before his wife's inheritance, and where he still often spent much of his time while Elisa was off orchestrating her grand schemes to empower her dynasty. There were the exquisite Spanish mares purchased from Castille, which provided excellent mounts for his weekly rides. As he strode through the garden, he saw the rare and valuable flowers that decorated his daily walks. And as he continued to pace the palace grounds of Sorrento, he came to one of his most favored possessions -- Lorenzo, a tiger that was one of his most exotic purchases to date. He enjoyed watching the best devour its food, and prowl around its confines like a true predator.

    It was a trait he admired in the cat -- its predatory instinct. Armando was known to have a wroth temper, and he appreciated the ferocity with which a beast like the tiger could destroy its prey. Walking up to the cage in which the creature was kept, he could see its feline eyes locked on him. Something seemed different today, though; there was an aggression in the creature's eyes, more than normal. Armando took a step back, and noticed that the beast didn't seem to have been fed. There were no blood stains on the floor, and the pails of food usually brought to the cat were nowhere to be found. As a matter of fact, neither were the servants who were assigned to tend to Lorenzo. Those were both rather odd...

    The creaking of iron distracted him from his thoughts. He looked back toward the castle gate, but saw nothing. And as he turned back to the tiger, the realization struck him as he saw that the lock on Lorenzo's cage had been left undone. The door flew open as the heavy cat leapt on top of its owner, pinning his body to the ground and threatening him with a feline snarl. As the King of Naples called for help, the cat mauled him with the fury that Armando had so admired. And in a matter of minutes, the King of Naples was slain.



    Naples' First Queen

    That Queen Elisa I was responsible for the murder of her husband in a tragic "accident" was not discovered until several centuries after her death -- even her own daughter, who was her closest confidant, was unaware that her father's death had been the result of her mother's deliberate shceming. But the first woman to sit on the throne of Naples was a cunning and deceitful woman, both adept and determined at wielding power as self-centeredly as possible. Her cynical and skeptical attitudes, in contrast to the traditionally faithful and zealous men of the di Ruggiero family, meant that she viewed the Pope not as a sacred liege, but a convenient protector of her interests (which he would be, when an influx of several thousand Papal troops helped Naples squash an attempt by Sicily to reclaim Teate in December of 1222). And perhaps most importantly, she was filled with such pride that she truly believed that only she was capable of properly ruling her kingdom; and her efforts to consolidate power were not well received by her vassals.

    When faced with the greedy ambitions of their new Queen, the Dukes of Pisa and Ancona rose up simultaneously in separate rebellions, challenging Elisa's rule and seeking their own claim over the Kingdom. The Duchy of Sardinia would have followed, were it not for Elisa's quick decision to imprison Duke Carlo III to prevent him from joining his kinsmen.



    Despite having lost two of her Dukes and their lands to rebellion, Elisa proved herself a swift and merciless military leader, just as she was a relentless schemer and backstabber. Her troops mobilized quickly, sweeping northward and annihilating most of the Pisan army in a single grand victory, before turning southward to assault the armies of Ancona as they attempted to seize land in southern Naples.



    The result was that Elisa was able to imprison all of her most outspoken enemies and consolidate most of the kingdoms' territory under her direct rule. For her desire to gather power to herself, this was a victory -- but from the standpoint of managing a kingdom, it was tragic. As the opinion of her vassals fell dramatically, corruption began to spread at an alarming rate through the Queen's oversized demesne. Inefficient government, thievery, smuggling rings, and all manner of disorder brought the financial stability of Naples crashing down, and within a year all tax income to the throne had ceased, and the Kingdom was at a complete economic standstill. Worse, her son Amedeo had fathered a son of his own, meaning that Elisa could no longer assassinate him as she had planned to do, in order to leave the kingdom with her beloved daughter Joscella.

    What was worse, Armando had impregnated her shortly before his own assassination, and Elisa had born a second son, as well. She determined that her only plan was to change the model of succession of the family; something that had been done only once before.

    In a widely unpopular move, Elisa declared that, effective immediately in November of 1228, succession would be determined by strict Cognatic Primogeniture -- meaning that Joscella, despite being a woman, would inherit all of her mother's titles as her eldest child. This finally gave Elisa the freedom to distribute her held lands among her two daughters, making Joscella, the elder, Duchess of Tuscany and Dora, the younger, Duchess of Pisa. Her mother, Judit, was given the island Duchy of Sardinia.



    With her daughters helping to administrate the mainland, the governing efficiency of Naples returned to normal, and the fortunes began to return to Orvieto. But through all of her moves -- suppressing revolts, manipulating the laws of succession, and generally disregarding the interests of anyone but herself and her daughters -- Elisa had made more than her share of enemies. In an ironic twist of fate, her reign ended the same way it began -- with an assassination. But while her reign began with her own plot to kill her husband, it ended when the Mayor of Ancona arranged for a venomous snake to be left in her bed, delivering the poisoned bite that brought Queen Elisa to her death on June 30 of 1231.

    Last edited by RedTemplar; 16-08-2012 at 03:09.
    My AARs:

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